Inspiration, Enablement, Empowerment – from the heart

[In Part One, I traced my impressions of Kylie from her role in Neighbours onwards; how loving someone who turned out to be a committed Kylie fan gave me reason to take a closer look and how my appreciation of her as an artist and an inspiration has grown]

Intrigued when Kylie’s Kiss Me Once tour was announced, I checked on ticket prices and at first recoiled. I currently have an extremely limited budget and have to watch the pennies very carefully indeed. I decided that regretfully, I’d have to add this one to my almost infinitely proportioned list of ‘things I’ve missed out on’. Then I heard that she would be performing at a BBC Radio 2 In Concert show in May. I applied for tickets, I didn’t get tickets, I never get tickets for In Concert, despite having applied for just about every one ever! Time for an aside – Jo Whiley and whoever dishes out the tickets for In Concert and other BBC events (plus anyone else whom this may concern) please note: no tickets = no review, ok?*

The year progressed. Then, late in July, I was given a date for an appointment that I’d been waiting on for some time. It was to happen on Tuesday September 30th and would be in London. So I would have a trip into town that day, with travel costs reimbursed and I expected to have something to celebrate. I checked to see what might be happening that evening and realised that this would be the middle of Kylie’s three nights at the O2. I did a quick budget reassessment and began monitoring the ticket resale sites. At the end of August, I bought a standing ticket at around face value and began to get excited. It was also announced that Kylie would be playing the iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse, so I applied for the ticket draw for that too (I actually applied for almost every night in September, as I’ve done, without success, for the past couple of years – this time round, I did get tickets for the Blondie and Chrissie Hynde night – which was pretty amazing! … but not for Kylie).

At around that time, something sparked a thought process, that began with musing on what form my Ideal Dinner Party would take. I decided I’d like the theme to be Inspiring Women. But who to invite? The first name that popped into my head was Kylie. That idea grew, I formed an intention to begin a project around the Inspiring Women theme… and that I was going to have Kylie’s involvement. But how to achieve this… clearly, getting face to face with her and talking about the idea would be necessary. So I formed the intention to meet her and get her interest.

In mid September, I spotted something that looked amazing… someone had listed on Viagogo, a VIP Party Package ticket for the 30th, at a fraction of it’s face value. I grabbed it before anyone else could, but when it arrived, it turned out to be an upper tier seat, right at the back. I was not impressed and complained. Viagogo took their time in dealing with it, eventually calling me only a few days before the gig date and offering a voucher valid against a future purchase and saying I could keep the ticket. There being no viable alternative on offer, I had little choice but to accept, though I was rather disappointed and it was getting a little late to resell the ticket. I offered it around friends, but nobody wanted it. I did also get an absolute classic of a ‘Customer Services BS’ conversation though, which I’ll summarise in another piece!

Saturday September 27th dawned. Not only hadn’t I got tickets for that night in the iTunes draw, I’d missed them on YPlan too, those came up on the Thursday while I was in the gym. For most of the other iTunes gigs, YPlan had more than one tranche of tickets, so I kept a close eye on there through Saturday morning. When none had come up by lunchtime, I was on the point of resigning myself to not going – I was after all going to see Kylie the following Tuesday. But then something amazing happened; I Was Gonna Cancel started playing in my head… it spoke to me very clearly… shut out all the doubtwhat’s on the other side, you will never know, unless you go, go, go …go girl. So, despite having no ticket, I got myself together and caught a train. I arrived at the Roundhouse shortly after 6pm, to find a long queue of ticket holders and a somewhat shorter standby queue. I estimated there were no more than 50 ahead of me at most, so thought I had a reasonable chance of getting in. That wouldn’t be decided until 8pm though. In the meantime, I had my spare for Tuesday with me and thought I’d use this to enhance my chances by offering a trade. I had it in an envelope and wrote on the back “Got a spare? Want to trade for Tuesday?” and held it out as the ticket holder queue slowly filed by. Eventually the back end of that went past; I had a few comments along the lines of “I’d go for that if I had a spare”, but still had the envelope and was still in the standby queue.

And there I stayed, still presenting my envelope with the message on it and the spare ticket in it, until around 7:50. Then two women came by. The nearer one checked back and took a peek at my envelope, but misread it “Oh… so it’s not tonight you need a ticket for then? Sorry!” and turning, walked on. I called after her “Yes, it is tonight I need a ticket for, this one’s for Tuesday, to trade”. She turned, peeled off an A4 printout and handed it to me; then refusing my outstretched envelope, moved on. I was in! I felt elated! I did a happy dance, turned to the others in the standby queue, smiled, said I hoped they all got in too and dashed for the entrance. Arriving there, I showed my ticket and had the response “You don’t want this entrance, you want that one over there with the sign that says Guests“… double OMG!!!

I’m not just in, I’m in the VIP seats at the front of the balcony. I look around, there’s the odd vaguely familiar face or two, that I can’t quite place… and then there’s one I do recognise… Sir Ian McKellen is sitting in the row behind, an aisle and half a dozen seats away. Kylie was just amazing, performing a cut-down version of her tour set, though still an hour and a half’s worth. I stayed in my seat for a while, but Can’t Get You Out of My Head had me in the aisle and I mostly stayed there for the rest. After the lights came up, I said hello to Sir Ian as he passed me on the way out. He asked after my health and shook my hand. I paused to take a selfie or two and then made my way out of the auditorium and down the stairs.

Halfway down the stairs, is the stair… or rather, the landing. The landing that I’d noticed on the way up, as being equipped with a double door on which the notice NO PUBLIC ADMITTANCE was affixed. As I descended the stairs I saw that this landing was filled with people, grouped around Sir Ian and facing the double doors. There was no way past this group, so I stopped a step or two up from the landing and waited to see what would happen; I was in no hurry and here was a little more atmosphere to lap up. I didn’t need to wait long because seconds later the doors opened and Sir Ian and the assembled throng (‘throng’? really? well ok then, mini-throng… micro-throng? nano-throng? bunch? posse?) swept through. I stepped down onto the landing and was ushered through after them. It was clear the doorway led into the stage door lobby and thence out through the stage door into the open area behind the roundhouse, where an army of roadies were loading gear into a pair of trucks. I followed around and found myself in an enclosure that is home to the outdoor VIP bar. It was busy and it took me a while to get a drink. Once that was in my hand I wandered round, but saw nobody of particular interest to chat with.

Opposite the bar, is a building accessed by an open staircase leading to a verandah on the first floor, behind which a white facade stands, framing a doorway and a large window through which a well illuminated room with a TV screen on the wall was visible. From the position I’d taken in the bar area, I was facing this building, of which I had a clear view apart from the lower part of the staircase, which was hidden by the fence enclosing the bar area. A security guard stood at one end of the verandah. I pondered what the purpose of the building might be; offices? crew hang out area? dressing rooms? While my thoughts were thus occupied, a second figure appeared on the verandah, emerging through the doorway. She wore a wide brimmed dark hat and carried something crooked in her left arm… papers of some kind, perhaps a folder. A glimpse of blonde hair was visible beneath the hat brim, but given that it was dark and she was backlit by the window that she was facing away from, it wasn’t possible to make out anything else. My first thought was “Is that Kylie?” but then I considered that it might be someone on her staff… or the Roundhouse staff… or iTunes… She began descending the stairs. Had I followed my intuition – as I had up to that point – and left the bar quickly, I would have come face to face with whoever it was (and having seen a more recent photo of Kylie wearing the same hat, I’m convinced that it was her). But I hesitated briefly, overthinking and emerged from the bar perhaps forty seconds too late. There was no sign of anyone apart from security staff and the roadies and I left at that point, to a chorus of fans outside the gate, asking me if Kylie would be much longer… “I’m sorry, I really have no idea, but good luck!” I called to them.

So what lesson do I take from this? Clearly, that following my intuition works and hesitating doesn’t. Also, that making a clear intention is a powerful tool; in this case it came so much closer to working out, than I would have thought possible. Am I disappointed that I settled for ‘just’ an awesome night that I hadn’t expected and missed the main prize? Yes, a little, because it would have been good to have already had that meeting. But perhaps there’s a reason the meeting wouldn’t have been advisable that night and if I’ve done it once, I can do it again. I don’t see this as a failure or as a one-off opportunity that won’t be repeated. My intention remains strong.

Kylie was amazing again at the O2 on the following Tuesday, though I preferred the more intimate atmosphere of the Roundhouse. I didn’t get rid of my spare, because a security man insisted that I couldn’t even give it away outside. I didn’t want to sell it, it wound up costing me nothing and I’d have preferred that someone had it who would have appreciated it. But something good happened there too, I had a chance conversation in a bar before going in, that has resulted in a contact who can open some doors. I’ll write more about this when the time is right!

* note that while ‘no tickets’ = ‘no review’, ‘tickets’ =/= ‘guaranteed review’… though I will probably turn up with or without guest or guests, dance, applaud and generally chat to people. I may ask you and/or artists to join me in a selfie or two. I might ask for a rider as well, though I don’t actually expect you to honour that as a condition of my attendance.
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